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Photograph No. 24

Buttress, navy from Le Bourbier to Saint-Benoit, 2017



Historical and technical data


The Marine du Bourbier site is located east of Reunion Island on the territory of the municipality of Saint-Benoît on the so-called "windward" coast at the northern entrance to the city at a place called Marine. The site is laid out as a picnic area. It is located in a disturbed area at the location of the place called “Cap Fontaine”.  

The consultation of the plan of the delimitation of the geometric steps of the commune of Saint-Benoit, approved in session of the private council on October 9, 1876 for the part between the mouth of the river of rocks and the quagmire, _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_gives us some insight into the spatial organization of the Quagmire Navy.


Figure1: Photogrammetric representation of the buttress
By Jimmy Mouchard

The website


The underwater archaeological prospecting operation referenced OA: 3132 revealed an architectural structure made up of cut basalt stones and rubble. The passage space called "slide" which was once used to slide the bales of braided Vacoas loaded with sugar, coffee, is still visible today, as well as the roadway cut in the rock which allowed the plows to convey miscellaneous goods.

The wall identified as a buttress is very imposing. It is preserved 9 meters high, 4.55 meters long and 0.30 to 0.40 meters thick. 

According to the conclusion of Jimmy Mouchard, Doctor of Archaeology, who supported the Brotherhood of Seafarers during this operation:

In the state of our observation, it seems certain that the site of the “Marine du Bourbier” has been the subject of repairs and phases of reconstruction several times. This is not a complete and exhaustive study of building archeology but a simple overview of the exploitable potential for scientific purposes. All the raw data was processed in order to extract the first orthophotographs and facilitate the first elevation readings. Coupled with the development of the master plan, this unpublished documentation sheds light on the construction system designed and implemented in a fairly hostile coastal environment. The main architectural ensembles (19 walls, i.e. 5 terraces) which have been subjected to surface archaeological observation are in an exceptional state of conservation which invites elected officials and local authorities to become aware of the need to restore /preserve one of the rare port heritages of Reunion Island, probably the only listed “tiered” architectural ensemble, designed on the basis of natural rock and according to the principle of stacking overflowing terraces. Imposing by its volumes, by its dimensions and by the mass of materials used, the "Marine du Bourbier" questions the origins of this ambitious architectural program (namely the sponsor and the manager of such a site). Although superficial, this work already makes it possible to better characterize these coastal infrastructures and their evolution in the 19th and 20th centuries.


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